The great thing about being a video editor is that there’s so much that you can learn, even if you’ve been editing for a long time. Sometimes the software gets an upgrade and you need to learn the new shortcuts. Sometimes a deadline is approaching and it’s time to learn a few new tricks to speed up your editing. Either way, getting better at editing isn’t always easy or comfortable, but the best editors tend to know the most about editing and their software. Get a leg up with these 5 advanced editing techniques for Adobe Premiere Pro.
1. Editing With Proxies
Editing with proxies saves a lot of time, allowing you to work with smaller files that don’t cause your computer to lag and don’t take as long to render. There are two ways to create proxies: before you “ingest” the clips through the Media Browser or the New Project screen, and after you’ve imported your clips into your project.
To create proxies through the Media Browser, open up the Media Browser and look in the upper-left corner. Check the box next to “Ingest” to turn it on and a new dialogue box will appear. (If it doesn’t, click the settings wrench to bring up this box.)
From here, you can choose what to do upon ingesting (to make it simple for now, just select “Create Proxies” from the dropdown). Choose a preset that works best for your system (ProRes is good for Macs, GoPro Cineform for PCs). You can keep the destination the same as the project, but I like to put it in a specific folder within the project called “Proxies,” so choose the folder if you have a specific place, as well.
Click “OK” and go back to the Media Browser. Now anything that you add to your project through the Media Browser will automatically be converted into a proxy in Adobe Media Encoder, which will open on its own if it’s not open already.
To create proxies in the project panel: If you’ve already imported your media and want to create proxies, all you need to do is select the clip(s) you want to proxify (not a real word), right-click on them, then select Proxy > Create Proxies. A dialogue box will appear that gives you a choice of presets from which to choose, as well as a box for setting the destination of the proxies. Click “OK” and Adobe Media Encoder will start doing its thing just like before.
The tricky part to all of this is that you may not have any idea what is a proxy and what isn’t in your timeline, so you should add the “Toggle Proxies” button in the Program Monitor. To do this, click the plus sign in the bottom right corner of the program window and select the icon that has two windows with arrows on it, then drag it down into the bar below with your other controls.
Now, when you turn it on (blue), every clip that has a proxy will be a proxy. When it’s off, it shows the full-resolution clip.
2. Multi-Camera Editing
You can easily sync up multiple camera angles using the multi-camera editing feature by putting all the files into a new folder in your project panel, then right-clicking on the folder and selecting “Create Multi-Camera Source Sequence.” Your options will pop up in a dialogue box. The choices for syncing clips together are in/out point, the timecode, or the audio waveform.
If you choose audio for syncing, you have to select the audio-sequence settings: use the audio track from one camera throughout, mix all camera angles’ audio together, or switch to the source camera’s audio. You can choose how you want to name the angles.
Now create a target sequence by right-clicking on the source sequence and selecting “New Sequence From Clip.” Double-click to open the sequence. Enable multi-camera editing by clicking on the plus icon in the source window and add the multi-camera icon. Blue means it’s on.
From here, play the video and click on the camera angle you want to use in real time (instead of clicking, you can use 1, 2, 3, etc. for each camera angle). This will put everything in the timeline according to how you selected each one during playback.
To refine your edit, use the rolling edit tool (N), and if you want a different angle, simply click the clip in the sequence and press the number of the angle you want and it will change automatically.
3. Tracking and Rotoscoping Masks
There are times when you’ll need to blur faces or license plates, make fly-through or invisible transitions, replace screens, or rotoscope entire objects in your frame. This is where mask tracking comes in. To track a mask, you need to first create one around the object you want to track using the clip (or the effect’s) opacity controls, then find the arrows to the right of that and click the track forward (or backward, if you’re at the end of the clip).
The track can be done with just the position (no real perspective change), the position and rotation (movement and perspective change), or the position, scale, and rotation (movement, distance, and perspective change). Premiere will then move the mask as well as it can to follow the object, creating keyframes on each frame.
When the track is done, go through and adjust any/all keyframes that are out of place by moving the mask where you need it to be, then play it back and make sure it looks right.
If you end up moving the mask on every frame, you’re rotoscoping. This is very tedious, but necessary in cases where you need to mask out something that changes its shape often, separate a person or object completely from their background (great for transitions!), or create text or animation layers that appear to be behind the object or subject.
4. Source Patching and Track Targeting
Source patching and track targeting are easily confused, but there are some key differences.
This tells Premiere where to “patch” the clip into the timeline when using insert and overwrite edits. When you look at the far left side of your video and audio tracks in the timeline, you’ll see V1, V2, etc. and A1, A2, etc. The far left set of V and A numbers are for source patching.
You have three different options with source patching: on, off, and silent. When it’s on, whichever layer is selected is the one that receives the audio/video track when the edit is made. When it’s off, nothing is brought down. And when it’s on silent (alt/option-click), a black border will appear on the button, and a gap will appear on the track that’s the same duration as the source you’ve selected.
This is great for specific gaps in videos, and works well if you know exactly what layer you want your clip to be on.
Track targeting is similar to source patching in that it automates the target for your footage/audio, but this works for other operations like copying and pasting footage and using match frame (F) or navigation commands (Up or Down on the keyboard). These track targets are located just a little bit over from the source patching numbers (hence the confusion), and you can select as many or as few as you want. Whichever layer is targeted will receive the clip. If multiple layers are selected, copy/paste and navigation controls will default to the lowest numbered layer. For match frame, the highest number layer gets priority.
5. Automated Sequence Editing
Some edits require you to move a lot of B-roll down into the timeline (demo reels, montages, etc.), and if you’re editing to music, that means getting the timing right as well as trimming the clips to fit. The beauty is that you can do this all at once by automating edits to a sequence. It requires some work up front, but it can be amazing for getting footage down on your timeline fast and efficiently, saving you lots of time.
Place your song on the audio layer you want, and play it back (make sure the sequence, not the audio clip is selected). Everywhere you want a clip to start (for instance, on the beat), hit the M key and create a marker.
Do this for as much of the song as requires footage, then go to your clip bin, select the bin or the files you want to use, then go to up to Clip > Automate to Sequence. A new dialogue box will pop up with the options, allowing you to choose what order to lay the clips on the timeline.
You can sort them within the bin or arrange the thumbnails and use that order. The markers you made can now be used for the clip placement, and you can select how you want them to be added to the timeline, which will usually be overwrite edits. The automation will use your in and out points, and you can choose to ignore audio/video as well.
Hit “OK” and watch the clips appear magically on your timeline. Tweak them if you need to. This Automate to Sequence option is also great for making timelapses, since you can set the still image duration to 1 frame when you bring them in.
Adding as many advanced editing techniques to your skillset as you can not only makes you a faster and more efficient editor, but also a more complete editor. You’ll be able to create stories with much more ease, freeing you up to be more creative in all your projects.
What other advanced editing techniques do you use often or want to learn more about? Tell us in the comments below!